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Kinkstah! - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Kinky Friedman is performing here tomorrow night.  If you're not familiar with the many ten-gallon hats he wears, they include longtime musician (frontman of the legendary Texas Jewboys), author (of a number of mystery novels starring fictional versions of himself and many of his friends, the next of which is due out soon), and politician (running unsuccessfully in Texas for governor and, most recently, for state agriculture commisioner on a legalizing-pot platform, losing this last one by only eight points).

The story told in last week's alt-weekly came from his oldest avocation, and involves a man and a song you would hardly expect to hear about in the same paragraph:

This time around, fans can expect to hear “Ride ‘Em, Jewboy,” which is a poignant tribute to victims of the Holocaust from his 1973 release Sold American. Many years later he learned of a special fan who listened to it over and over in his prison cell.

“About 1996 I was on a book tour in South Africa doing an interview on a national TV show, when another guest on the show—a politician and anti-apartheid activist named Tokyo Sexwale—said he wanted to talk to me after the show. So he says ‘You know, Kinky, (Nelson) Mandela’s a big fan of yours.’

“I said ‘You’re kidding, man! Which book?’ He said ‘It’s not the books at all. It’s the music.’”

For the 13 years that Sexwale served at the Robben Island maximum-security prison, for terrorism and conspiracy, Mandela was in the cell next to his. Supporters would smuggle in tape cassettes to the political prisoners. One of them was Sold American.

“Tokyo said the song he (Mandela) would play every night before he went to bed—sometimes repeatedly, and he did this for months and months and months—was “Ride ‘Em Jewboy,” he recalls.

The emotion cresting in Friedman’s voice brought his narrative to a moment of silence.

He then cracked wise: “For instance, Joseph Heller’s favorite song of mine was ‘They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.’ Bill Clinton’s favorite was ‘Waitress, Please Waitress, Come Sit on My Face.’ That stands to reason. But it’s a measure of the man, the fact that for Mandela, that that was the song he liked is really remarkable.”

“This whole thing is almost like a fairy tale. I didn’t talk about it, but I had three people who knew about it: Sexwale, Dali Tambo (son of ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo), and Helen Suzman (Jewish liberal South African anti-apartheid activist and politician). I never met Mandela, but I started thinking about the time that I made that record in Nashville in 1973. We were trying to keep it pure, outlaw country—wondering if there was a hit, and if the DJs would play anything. And they will tell you you never know who you’re gonna reach. The last thing on my mind was that Nelson Mandela would be listening to this song repeatedly in a prison cell on Robben Island.”

Tomorrow will be a long day for me- appointments in Rochester throughout the day, followed by a late one here, and a lot of preparation for a potential six-hour session the next day. Yet the call of the Kinkstah is strong; tomorrow night will be only his second appearance here in the past 40 years, and after missing my chances to see Warren Zevon in similar settings, this might be the most kosher thing I could do.

3 comments or Leave a comment
mac_arthur_park From: mac_arthur_park Date: August 13th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do it, do it, do it!
captainsblog From: captainsblog Date: August 14th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Did! Did!

Short set, but a great venue, and I got to meet him afterward. He retold the Mandela story, as well as one about meeting Eric Clapton over a stash of Peruvian marching powder, and one about smuggling Cuban cigars into the Clinton residence ("Mr. President, we're not supporting their economy- we're burning their fields").
mac_arthur_park From: mac_arthur_park Date: August 14th, 2014 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

I developed a hopeless crush on the man when I read his cookbook, which also had selections from his books. I'm glad you got to see him.

It seems like last night was a win for both of us. After months of waiting, I got to see Queensryche again. :)

Yeah, my taste in music is all over the map.
3 comments or Leave a comment